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Best cardio workouts and benefits

by Dr Prem Community Writer
Why Cycling is Great

A healthy exercise routine and lifestyle should include both cardio and weight/strength training. This article will highlight some of the most popular and effective cardio workouts available today, their importance, and the benefits they offer.

What is Cardio Exercise?

heart

Cardio is short for cardiovascular and that’s because cardio exercises are any form of exercise that challenges your heart and lungs to sustain oxygen levels over a long period of time. This can last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes and includes a whole host of exercises and routines. Depending on what you enjoy doing, cardio exercises can actually be a lot of fun. Cardio exercises are also defined by movements that are repetitive and difficult enough to increase your heart rate.

Why Do They Work?

So now that you understand what cardio exercises are, you might be wondering why they’re good for you and how exactly they work.

Most people engage in cardio exercises for weight loss purposes, and these types of workouts are extremely efficient for this. Because cardio activities extend over a long period of time, your body will use its fat stores that produce energy so you can maintain your pace. An important component of achieving fat loss during cardio workouts is to determine your max heart rate. This is where the most stored fat is burned. Higher intensity workouts achieve this faster than moderate or low intensity, but any form of cardio exercise will offer health benefits.

What Are the Benefits?

So aside from fat loss, what other health benefits do cardio exercises offer? Because cardio routines force your heart and lungs to work harder, these organs will experience greater strength and functionality over time. As you age, bone density becomes an issue and cardio is proven to strengthen bones. Exercise of all forms offers reduced stress and cardio is no different. Cardio can also prevent cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, result in better sleep, and temporarily relieve depression and anxiety in many adults.

Cardio exercise affects many parts of the body, not just the heart and lungs. Here are a few other added benefits:

  • Increased circulation
  • Strengthens all muscles
  • Increases red blood cell count

Now that you know the benefits and science behind cardio, let’s check out some routines you can try.

1. Running/Walking

jogging

These might be the two most common cardio exercises and the first ones that come to mind. Walking is a low-intensity form of cardio. It’s often suggested for beginners and/or people who have recently endured an injury. Walking should be considered a stepping stone to more intense forms of exercise.

Running is a higher-intensity workout that can burn a significant amount of calories, depending on your pace. One thing to keep in mind when running is that it is considered a high-impact routine. This means that over time, it can take a toll on your body’s knees, ankles, hips, and shins. But one bonus that running provides is that long after your run is over, your body will continue to burn fat. Your metabolic rate can actually remain increased for up to 24 hours following a run.

Both running and walking can be done outdoors, at a gym, or on a treadmill in your own home. The convenience of walking and running are two of its biggest draws.

2. Rowing/Swimming

Rowing is one of the best cardio exercises around for a variety of reasons. It is low impact, while still burning an insane amount of calories – upwards of 840 calories per hour! It also works the entire body, using all of your muscles to work the machine.

Swimming offers some of the same benefits as rowing. It is a low impact, high intensity, and enjoyable option. Because swimming offers a weightless environment, it is extremely kind to your joints and muscles. Another awesome benefit of swimming is that you can incorporate a variety of different movements. The most common method is the freestyle stroke, but once you become more comfortable in the water, you can experiment with the butterfly, backstroke, and other styles that work a variety of muscles.

In order to master jumping rope, you’ll need patience and focus. It is a fast paced exercise when done correctly. It can also improve speed and stamina.

3. Cycling

Whether done on a stationary bike or outdoors, cycling works mostly the lower body but does so in a low impact way. For those looking forward to site seeing and getting outdoors, cycling is a great way to combine your cardio workout with fresh air. If you face inclement weather or prefer to avoid the outdoor elements, traffic, hills, or other cyclists, a stationary bike at home is equally as efficient.

4. Jumping Rope

This activity isn’t just fun for kids! When performed correctly, jumping rope can actually burn upwards of 1,000 calories an hour! That’s an impressive amount of fat burning. But like running, jumping rope can be high impact, placing strain on your ankles, knees, and even lower back. But the benefits include definition in your shoulders and calves.

A unique benefit to cycling is the ability to adjust your intensity, resistance, and speed easily.

5. HIIT

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is gaining in popularity and for good reason. Not only is HIIT training proven to be more efficient than many other cardio workouts, but it can also achieve results in a shorter period of time.

The beauty of HIIT training is that it keeps your body from entering a steady fat burning state, which sometimes happens during cardio exercise when there is no variation in intensity or speed. Your heart remains at a steady pace and as a result, burns fat more slowly. With HIIT training, you’re engaging in bursts of high intensity activities, followed by short, moderate activities. This keeps your heart rate in a constant state of influx, burning more calories per session.

Start Small

If you’ve never engaged in an intense cardio workout, it’s recommended that you start slow. This means incorporating low intensity activity at a moderate level approximately three times a week. This can include walking, swimming, and even cycling. Once your body becomes accustomed to these cardio workouts you can increase your intensity and try new, more challenging forms of cardio exercise like running or HIIT training.

Listen to your body and follow its cues when choosing the cardio routine that’s best for you.

Article Submitted By Community Writer